Speaker Johnson Gets Swamped Over Ukraine

When it came time to resist sending another $60 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) got “swamped.” The reason? The return of the Republican minority party mentality.

Many moons ago in the early ’90s, the GOP learned the necessity of transcending that permanent minority mentality from an unconventional minority leader, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Believing, as he did, that the GOP represented the views of a majority of Americans, Gingrich refused to be the sort of leader who merely follows polls and the conventional political wisdom. He correctly understood that such an intellectual box was, in effect, a coffin for Republicans. Instead, he led.

Gingrich and a handful of his colleagues honed their messaging and drove the polls instead of following them. Ultimately, in 1994 they produced the “Contract with America” and the first GOP House majority in four decades. Political courage and convictions were rewarded at the ballot box; and the GOP’s new majority party mentality was affirmed and embraced.

That’s no longer the case today.

While Speaker Johnson inherited a majority forged by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and built upon the foundations of Speaker Gingrich’s majority party mentality, Johnson appears to have forgotten the lessons that made it possible: namely, that the GOP represents the views of a majority of Americans. Thus, in his initial defense of his flip-flop on Ukraine funding, Speaker Johnson argued:

Even though it’s not the perfect legislation—it’s not the legislation that we would write if Republicans were in charge of both the House, the Senate, and the White House—this is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances.

What circumstances? Johnson is the speaker because Americans filled a majority of House seats with Republicans. This is not a cause for timorous politics. It is reason to exhibit political leadership. After all, the House controls the power of the purse; and Ukraine funding is an appropriation. Nevertheless, his minority party mentality has caused him to diminish the power of the GOP House majority and its powers. Johnson surmised that because the Democrats control the White House and the Senate, the GOP House majority must preemptively surrender to ensure they receive torture rather than death.

Having stepped into the slippery feculence of the minority-party mentality, Speaker Johnson then slid into the political abyss by parroting the Biden administration’s heinous scare tactic regarding Ukraine funding. Per The Daily Signal:

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who voted against the $40 billion Ukraine bill in May 2022, was a notable exception. He championed the Ukraine measure Saturday as part of a four-bill foreign aid package that totals $95 billion.

“I’d rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” Johnson told Newsmax. “We don’t want to have boots on the ground, and we can prevent that by allowing them to hold Putin at bay.”

If President Biden and his dismal, discreditable administration were ever to use the threat of deploying American troops to leverage tens of billions of dollars more in taxpayer aid to Ukraine, Republicans ought to allow the shame to be on them. Instead, by parroting Biden’s despicable talking point, the shame is even more on Speaker Johnson and any Republican echoing it.

How would a GOP possessed of a majority mentality have addressed this issue? At a minimum, it would have seized the opportunity to pass legislation for American border security first. Further, regarding Ukraine aid, it would have demanded:

  • An assessment of how already-expended funds and operations were used.
  • To know how such past, present, and future aid impacts America’s own defensive capabilities.
  • Measurable metrics and a general strategy for victory.
  • And, most importantly, a vow from this feckless and reckless administration—the same one that wrought the disastrous and deadly Afghanistan withdrawalto never send American troops to defend the non-NATO member Ukraine.  

If the Biden administration and its congressional minions want to threaten—let alone send—America’s military into harm’s way against Russian forces, risking not only our troops’ lives but also provoking World War III, let the Democrats bear the brunt of a justifiably livid citizenry.

Speaker Johnson should be honoring the voters’ decision to entrust his party with a majority by leading on border security and not flip-flopping on Ukraine aid. But such political leadership requires the moral sensibility to be outraged by the way Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have prioritized everything over the interests of an America they loathe and would prefer to “fundamentally transform.” The public understands the issue of border security is the priority. What they do not understand—and will not forgive—is a GOP House caucus that has relapsed into this kind of minority party mentality and has failed to do everything within its power to address the border as their caucus’ top priority.

In short, come November, the GOP House majority is very likely to discover the minority party mindset is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As for Speaker Johnson, in an example a Louisianan may find rather objectionable but nevertheless remains entirely apt, Speaker Johnson is “leading” the House GOP majority in the same way Union Major General George B. McClellan “led” the Army of the Potomac: specifically, by overestimating the strength of the enemy and dawdling until such time as, in his estimation, everything is perfect for an offensive. In the end, the one who marched was Gen. Robert E. Lee, who did not have the luxury of time or resources, and he routed “Little Napoleon,” McClellan. Voters did not give Johnson a majority in order to see him play out this sad bit of cosplay.

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